Windsor Castle has housed the sovereigns of England for over nine hundred years. It is also the largest occupied castle in the world and is one of the official residences of Queen Elizabeth II. If you spot her royal standard flying from the Round Tower, instead of the Union Jack, she is home.
The Castle is divided into three wards: the Upper Ward, the Middle Ward, and the Lower Ward.
The Upper Ward is where the entrance to the State Apartments, the Drawings Gallery, and Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House can be visited. The Changing of the Guard takes place in Engine Court during the official residence of the Queen.
The State Apartments were partially redone after the fire of November 20, 1992, however, they attempted to restore as much as possible. It is possible for visitors to tour the Grand Staircase, the Grand Vestibule, the Waterloo Chamber, the Garter Throne Room, the King’s Drawing Room, the King’s State Bedchamber, the King’s Dressing Room, the King’s Closet, the Queen’s Drawing Room, the King’s Dining Room, the Queen’s Ballroom, the Queen’s Audience Chamber, the Queen’s Presence Chamber and the Queen’s Guard Chamber.
Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House is an English country mansion in miniature. It is built on a scale of one-twelfth normal size. It has electric lighting and running water, and its library contains leather-bound volumes by many famous authors such as Arthur Conan Doyle and Rudyard Kipling.
The Drawings Gallery houses many watercolors, drawings and precious objects from the Queen’s collection. Artists such as Leonardo, Raphael, and Michelangelo are housed in this collection.
The Middle Ward houses the Round Tower, which was built by King Henry II in the twelfth century. The tower is surrounded by the Moat Garden. The twin towers of the Norman Gate stand next to the Round Tower.
The Lower Ward is where St. George’s Chapel and the Albert Memorial Chapel can be visited. A passageway between the two leads to the Dean’s Cloister and the Canons’ Cloister, both of which date from the fourteenth century. The residences of the Military Knights are on the other side of the Lower Ward. The Mary Tudor tower was built in the fourteenth century and is the residence of the Governor. A small gateway leads to the Horseshoe Cloister, which is a row of timber-framed houses built by King Edward IV in 1480. They now house the male singers of the chapel choir. The Changing of the Guard takes place in the Lower Ward during the winter.
St. George’s Chapel is used regularly on great ceremonial occasions. The eight bells of St. George’s Chapel are chimed every three hours.
The Albert Memorial Chapel was used by Edward III when he founded the Order of the Garter. The richly decorated interior was created for Queen Victoria in 1863 as a memorial to her husband, Albert. The illustrated panels on the walls depict scenes from the Bible. The chapel houses a marble effigy of Prince Albert.
Windsor Castle is a fascinating place to visit while on your trip to England.